Best places in the world to see fall foliage

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As the heat of summer gradually gives way to the crispness of fall, nature has wrapped itself in warm tones, setting the stage for one of the most enchanting phenomena – the changing of leaves. Hello fall foliage! And hello vivid reds, oranges, and yellows. If you're looking for the best fall foliage destinations, you're in for a treat. We're picking the best spots to head to for your autumn holiday.

#1 Kyoto, Japan: A Symphony of Colors

Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto in autumn

Nestled amidst ancient temples and serene gardens, Kyoto is a city that embraces the changing seasons with unparalleled grace. Autumn turns this historic Japanese city into a canvas of vibrant colors, attracting visitors from all corners of the globe.

What Makes It Special:

  • Maple Leaves Extravaganza: The Japanese maple trees (momiji) create a mesmerizing display of crimson and gold hues that transform traditional gardens like Kiyomizu-dera and Tofuku-ji into ethereal landscapes.
  • Arashiyama Bamboo Grove: The towering bamboo grove takes on a new charm as the sunlight filters through the golden leaves, casting a warm glow over the path.
  • Tea House Serenity: Enjoy the fall foliage from the tranquility of a traditional tea house, where you can sip on matcha while gazing at the picturesque gardens adorned with colorful leaves.

#2 New England, USA: A Patchwork of Autumn Splendor

New England, USA

New England, with its quaint towns and charming countryside, is renowned for its picturesque fall foliage. The region comes alive as the leaves paint the landscape in a captivating array of reds, oranges, and yellows.

What Makes It Special:

  • Scenic Drives: Go on drives like the Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire and Vermont's Green Mountain Byway, where you'll be treated to panoramic views of forests ablaze with color.
  • Apple-Picking Adventures: Experience the quintessential fall activity of apple picking at orchards that are set against the backdrop of rolling hills adorned with vibrant foliage.
  • Fall Festivals: By attending fall festivals you can engage in all local events and fairs that celebrate the harvest season with delicious food, live music, and traditional crafts.

#3 The Lake District, England: A Romantic Autumn Escape

Lake District

The Lake District in England is known for its poetic landscapes, serene lakes, and rolling hills. Autumn here is a time of quiet beauty, as the foliage complements the tranquil surroundings.

What Makes It Special:

  • Mirror-Like Lakes: The calm waters of the lakes reflect the vibrant autumn foliage, creating a stunning mirror effect that amplifies the visual splendor.
  • Hiking Havens: Go on hikes through trails like Catbells and Helvellyn to witness the autumnal transformation up close, surrounded by a palette of warm colors.
  • Cosy Country Inns: The perfect blend of nature and comfort can be experienced by staying at charming country inns, complete with crackling fires and stunning views of the fall foliage.

#4 Seoul, South Korea: Autumnal Elegance

Gyeongbokgung palace Seoul South Korea

Seoul, the bustling capital of South Korea, takes on a new charm in the fall. Amidst the modern skyscrapers and bustling streets, the city's parks and historic sites burst forth with rich autumnal colors.

What Makes It Special:

  • Gyeongbokgung Palace: The ancient palace grounds are enveloped in fall colours, creating a striking contrast between tradition and modernity.
  • Hanbok Strolls: Rent a traditional Korean hanbok and take a leisurely stroll through parks like Namsan and Olympic Park, where the colors of autumn set the perfect backdrop for photos.
  • Culinary Delights: Indulge in seasonal Korean dishes, such as hotteok (sweet pancakes) and chestnut-based treats, that celebrate the flavors of autumn.

#5 Vermont, USA: Quaint Charm and Rustic Beauty

Burlington, Vermont, USA autumn town skyline

Vermont's countryside is a rustic paradise that undergoes a stunning transformation during the fall months. With quaint villages, covered bridges, and rolling hills, Vermont offers an idyllic fall foliage experience.

What Makes It Special:

  • Covered Bridges: Vermont's iconic covered bridges create a charming scene against the backdrop of fiery red, orange, and golden leaves.
  • Maple Syrup Culture: Explore maple sugarhouses and learn about the process of making maple syrup while surrounded by the beauty of autumn.
  • Hiking and Biking Trails: Rent a bike and cycle through picturesque trails like the Long Trail and the Appalachian Trail, where you'll see a while new world in the form of colourful forests.

#6 Bavaria, Germany: Fairytale Landscapes

Bavarian Alps

Bavaria's enchanting landscapes are accentuated by the arrival of fall. Rolling hills, medieval castles, and charming villages are full of autumn colors and are sure to make you want to extend your stay!

What Makes It Special:

  • Neuschwanstein Castle: The iconic fairytale castle stands out even more against a backdrop of vibrant foliage, creating a truly magical atmosphere.
  • Alpine Splendors: Hike into the Bavarian Alps and witness the contrast between the snow-capped peaks and the warm colors of autumn in the valleys.
  • Oktoberfest Celebrations: Combine your love for fall foliage with the renowned Oktoberfest celebrations, featuring traditional beer, music, and festivities.

#7 Aspen, USA: Golden Glory in the Rockies

Aspen Colorado

Aspen, Colorado, is famous for its stunning golden aspen trees that light up the Rocky Mountains during the fall. The contrast between the vibrant foliage and the snow-capped peaks is a sight to behold.

What Makes It Special:

  • Quaking Aspen Trees: The quaking aspen trees turn vibrant shades of gold, creating a shimmering and awe-inspiring landscape against the blue sky.
  • Maroon Bells: The Maroon Bells, two iconic mountain peaks, are reflected in the crystal-clear waters of Maroon Lake, surrounded by a palette of fall colors.
  • Hot Air Balloon Rides: Soar above the golden landscape in a hot air balloon and enjoy panoramic views of the changing foliage and the rugged mountains.

#8 Moscow, Russia: Autumnal Ambiance in the Capital

Saint Basil's Cathedral in autumn in Moscow

Moscow, often associated with its historic architecture and vibrant culture, transforms into a city of autumnal allure during the fall season. The city's parks and gardens come alive with rich hues.

What Makes It Special:

  • Gorky Park: The iconic Gorky Park turns into a canvas of autumn colors, offering a peaceful retreat within the bustling city.
  • Sparrow Hills: Climb the observation platform at Sparrow Hills for panoramic views of the Moscow River and the surrounding landscape adorned with fall foliage.
  • Red Square and St. Basil's Cathedral: The iconic Red Square and the colorful onion domes of St. Basil's Cathedral provide a stunning contrast to the changing leaves.

#9 The Pocono Mountains, USA: Tranquil Autumn Escape

Pocono Mountains Delaware

The Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania offer a serene and tranquil autumn escape. With its lakes, forests, and charming towns, the region is a hidden gem for fall foliage enthusiasts.

What Makes It Special:

  • Delaware Water Gap: The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area boasts stunning vistas of the Delaware River framed by the vibrant colors of fall foliage.
  • Lake Wallenpaupack: Cruise on Lake Wallenpaupack to enjoy the picturesque beauty of the colorful forests reflected in the calm waters.
  • Cozy Cabins and Lodges: Stay in cozy cabins and lodges nestled in the heart of nature, providing a perfect retreat to unwind and soak in the fall ambiance.

#10 Tuscany, Italy: Autumn Elegance and Vineyards

Vineyard, Chianti Region, Tuscany

Tuscany, known for its rolling hills, vineyards, and charming villages, takes on a new charm in the fall. The region's landscapes are bathed in warm hues, creating a romantic atmosphere.

What Makes It Special:

  • Chianti Wine Region: Explore the vineyards of Chianti during the harvest season, with rows of grapevines surrounded by the stunning colors of autumn.
  • Medieval Towns: Wander through medieval towns like San Gimignano and Montepulciano, where the fall foliage adds an extra layer of enchantment.
  • Rural Retreats: Stay in agriturismos (farm stays) and country estates, enjoying the tranquil beauty of Tuscany's fall landscapes while savoring local wine and cuisine.

#11 Napa Valley, USA: Grapevines and Golden Leaves

Vineyard Napa valley

Napa Valley, California, is renowned for its world-class wineries and vineyards. During the fall, the valley is transformed into a visual feast as the grapevines mingle with the autumn foliage.

What Makes It Special:

  • Wine Tasting: There are a host of wine tastings and tours through the vineyards, where you'll witness the captivating interplay between the vibrant leaves and the grape clusters.
  • Hot Air Balloon Rides: Soar above the vineyards in a hot air balloon to capture panoramic views of the golden landscape against the backdrop of rolling hills.
  • Farm-to-Table Dining: A new concept that’s graining ground fairly quickly, a farm-to-table experience showcases the bounties of the harvest season, complemented by the stunning fall scenery.

#12 Jiuzhaigou Valley, China: Nature's Masterpiece

Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area

Jiuzhaigou Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in China, is a breathtaking wonderland of colorful lakes, waterfalls, and forests. The valley becomes a true masterpiece during the fall months.

What Makes It Special:

  • Multi-Colored Lakes: The crystal-clear lakes take on hues of deep blue, turquoise, and emerald, surrounded by a kaleidoscope of colorful leaves.
  • Mirror Lake: Mirror Lake reflects the vibrant foliage and the snow-capped peaks, creating a surreal and dreamlike landscape.
  • Panda Habitat: Experience one of the cuddliest creatures in the world, up close, within the valley, and see how they thrive in the fall season.

#13 Acadia National Park, USA: Coastal Fall Beauty

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park in Maine offers a unique fall foliage experience along the rugged coastline. Rocky shores, lush forests, and scenic trails are enhanced by the warm colors of autumn.

What Makes It Special:

  • Cadillac Mountain: Witness the first rays of sunlight in the United States as they illuminate the colorful landscape from the summit of Cadillac Mountain.
  • Carriage Roads: The historic carriage roads and bike paths that wind through forests and around serene lakes are what are on the cards here, offering a picturesque way to enjoy the fall scenery.
  • Coastal Views: Take in breathtaking coastal views from spots like Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, where the contrast between the colorful leaves and the blue ocean is stunning.

#14 Almaty, Kazakhstan: Tranquil Beauty of the Steppes

lake Issyk Almaty

Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city, is a gateway to the stunning landscapes of the Eurasian steppes. In the fall, the surrounding mountains and parks come alive with a breathtaking display of autumn colors!

What Makes It Special:

  • Medeu Skating Rink: Explore the Medeu Skating Rink area, surrounded by golden foliage, and take a cable car to Kok-Tobe Hill for panoramic views of the city and the vibrant landscapes.
  • Big Almaty Lake: Journey to Big Almaty Lake, nestled in the mountains, where the pristine waters reflect the surrounding trees ablaze with fall colors.
  • Charyn Canyon: Venture to Charyn Canyon, where the dramatic rock formations stand in contrast to the warm hues of the foliage, creating a captivating visual spectacle.

#15 South Island, New Zealand: Southern Hemisphere's Fall Beauty

South Island, New Zealand

While most of the world experiences fall in September and October, South Island, New Zealand, offers its own autumnal magic in April and May. Majestic landscapes and stunning vistas await travelers during this unique time of year.

What Makes It Special:

  • Arrowtown: Explore the charming village of Arrowtown, where the historic streets are lined with trees displaying hues of gold and red.
  • Lake Tekapo: Visit Lake Tekapo with its brilliant turquoise waters framed by the vibrant colors of the surrounding trees, creating an otherworldly scene.
  • Milford Sound: Cruise through Milford Sound's tranquil waters, where waterfalls cascade down the cliffs, surrounded by the rich tones of fall foliage.

#16 Central Park, USA: Autumn in the Heart of New York City

Central Park NYC

Central Park, an oasis in the heart of bustling New York City, takes on a new enchantment during the fall months. The park's pathways and trees are adorned with warm hues, offering a serene escape.

What Makes It Special:

  • The Mall and Literary Walk: Stroll down The Mall, lined with trees that create a colorful canopy, and discover statues of famous authors along the Literary Walk.
  • Bow Bridge: The stunning views of the fall foliage from Bow Bridge make for a picturesque vantage point and must be captured on camera!
  • Boat Rides and Horse Carriages: Enjoy boat rides on the lake or take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the park, immersing yourself in the autumnal ambiance.

#17 Transylvania, Romania: Enchanted Autumn in the Carpathians

Beautiful autumn landscape in Transylvani

Transylvania, famous for its Dracula legends and medieval castles, offers a different kind of enchantment during the fall season. The Apuseni and Făgăraș Mountains display vibrant red, orange, and gold hues. Transylvania's fall also hosts the Transylvanian Festival of Crafts, showcasing traditional skills, and adds a unique twist to Halloween with its Dracula legend and historic castles like Bran Castle!

What Makes It Special:

  • Bran Castle: Explore the iconic Bran Castle, often associated with the Dracula myth, as it stands amidst a backdrop of colorful trees.
  • Sibiu: Wander through Sibiu's charming Old Town, where cobblestone streets and medieval buildings are framed by the warm colors of fall foliage.
  • Piatra Craiului National Park: Hike through Piatra Craiului National Park's trails, where you'll witness the rugged beauty of the Carpathian Mountains clothed in autumn hues.

#18 Lake Geneva, Switzerland: Alpine Serenity and Fall Hue

lake geneva, switzerland

Lake Geneva, surrounded by the majestic Swiss Alps and charming towns, offers a serene autumnal escape. The city's lakeside parks and gardens are awash with autumnal colors, offering the perfect backdrop to walk around!

What Makes It Special:

  • Lavaux Vineyards: Explore the terraced Lavaux Vineyards, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where rows of grapevines are set against the backdrop of the lake and the Alps.
  • Chillon Castle: Visit Chillon Castle on the shores of Lake Geneva, where the historic fortress is framed by the warm hues of the fall foliage.
  • Montreux Jazz Festival: Combine your fall getaway with the renowned Montreux Jazz Festival, where music and culture blend seamlessly with the natural beauty of the region.

#19 Quebec City, Canada: European Charm Meets Fall Beauty

national park in Quebec

Quebec City, with its cobblestone streets, historic architecture, and charming Old Town, transforms into a European-inspired fall wonderland. The city's colors harmonize with its rich history.

What Makes It Special:

  • Montmorency Falls: The stunning Montmorency Falls surrounded by the colors of autumn are a sight to behold, creating a breathtaking natural spectacle.
  • Autumn Gastronomy: It’s your chance to experience the flavors of the fall at local cafes and restaurants, where you can enjoy seasonal dishes and warm beverages amidst the cozy atmosphere.
  • Old Quebec: Take a walk through the charming streets of Old Quebec, where the historic architecture is adorned with fall foliage, creating a timeless ambiance.

Best Fall Foliage Destinations in the World